The Syria Thread 2011 - Present

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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby Elvis » Wed Nov 14, 2018 2:36 am

Hm, the website of Graham Phillips won't open for me in either Firefox or Chrome, while the website-checker sites say it's "up."

Does this open for anyone?: https://thetruthspeaker.co/2016/02/28/e ... d-to-know/

A couple of the 50 page-one search hits are Graham Phillips' sites. The rest are smear pieces by warmongering bloggers, corporate media and the BBC, who go so far as to label Phillips a "communist soldier"! It's a gross, determined effort to make Graham Phillips "fake news" and get him kicked off as many outlets as possible. To wit: I can't connect to his website. The Guardian sadly gets in on the act. :tear

Phillips is a first-class reporter, a true journalist. Watch this video and tell me, who is really making the fake news?:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAzVRbx_Khc


Having established Phillips' high value as a reporter, consider his critique of Bellingcat aka Eliot Higgins—often cited by MSM "reporters" and NGOs concerned with events in Syria. Here is most of the Google cache; many more embedded links and more at "original." (Google cache doesn't capture all the elements, but some missing pics etc. are in the archived copy):


Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat, Who is He? Everything You Need to Know
Graham Phillips

New, September 2018, check out –


[ https://youtu.be/xeFnqkkNjno ]



In 2016, I’ll be returning to my country of the UK, and there’s a man I’d certainly like to meet for an interview. While I was working on the scene from the war in Eliot Higgins 2Donbass, Eliot Higgins, of Bellingcat, was the man sitting on a sofa taking, and manipulating, YouTube videos (including my own) of Donbass, MH17, Syria, using them to disseminate misinformation, lies, to the world.

However, he’s unlikely ever to agree to an interview with me, because, you see, Higgins, from the UK, born 1979, avoids sources who may raise uncomfortable questions much like critics have accused his work of avoiding basis in science, or fact (see below for more on that).

So, who exactly is Eliot Higgins? The man western media fawn over to the extent you may think it’s Eliot’s own mum writing the press, with headlines like ‘Putin’s Fullscreen capture 28022016 123353.bmpMH17 Nemesis‘ and ‘One-Man Intelligence Unit‘ (and that, enthusiastically promoted by the UK government in Ukraine, and not only them – US, Estonian government sources and more, open fans of his work).

Well, this is how a standard Eliot Higgins piece, and they are manifold, begins, in the western press – ‘As rockets fell in Syria Eliot Higgins was asleep at his house 2,300 miles away, in Leicester. He woke a few hours later, roused his toddler daughter, Ela, and padded downstairs to make her porridge.’

That from the Telegraph, March 29th, 2014. Higgins affectionately portrayed as a kind of Winnie the Pooh meets a Beautiful Mind as he goes on to crack the enigma which had eluded the world etc etc.

Here, the Independent from January 18th, 2015 –

Any of us can pause a YouTube video or find an old friend on Facebook. But only one man has used these simple online tools to expose the world’s darkest secrets. No wonder everyone from the police to Google wants a piece of the blogger from Leicester.’


Newsweek – from June 2015 –

‘Sipping a can of beer and devouring french fries in a Brussels hotel room, Eliot Higgins doesn’t look like the type to get involved in armed conflicts. The Englishman has a baby face, slumped shoulders and a soft Midlands accent. But over the past three years, the 36-year-old former administrator and obsessive gamer has spent hundreds of hours scouring the Internet to find out the truth about faraway wars – from the use of chemical weapons in Syria to Russian troops invading Ukraine – all from the comfort of his couch.’


But what if it’s not really like that, at all?

What if the ‘Founder of Bellingcat. Visiting research associate at King’s College London. Nonresident Senior Fellow – New Information Frontiers @AtlanticCouncil.‘ (his own Twitter description), isn’t really that?

Chauncey GardinerWhat if Eliot Higgins is, at best, a latter day Chauncey Gardiner , (pictured, the Peter Sellers character from film ‘Being There’ who rose to success on the back of mental limitations mistaken for genius)? Or what if it’s even worse – what if Higgins is actually a liar, a faker, a fraud?

Let’s have a look at a 10 Higgins bullet-points –

Higgins is from Leicester in the UK, born in 1979, He never finished college, dropping out of the Southampton Institute of Higher Education. When asked for interview what he studied at university, his answer was , “Media . . . I think.”

He once worked as payments officer at a women’s underwear company. (“I’m more interested in lingerie than asylum seekers,”). In 2012, the hardcore online gamer (a World of Warcraft addict), Higgins was laid off from his job as an administrator at a non-profit providing housing for asylum seekers, turns to blogging, under the pseudonym ‘Brown Moses‘, from a Frank Zappa track.

Сredited, by some, with uncovering chemical weapons in Syria in 2013. Whether he actually did this, is the subject of debate (what he is documented as doing is agreeing to suppress information that the rebels had chemical weapons, and were behind chemical weapon attacks on Aleppo which had killed civilians). In any case, Higgins’ chemical weapons revelations were enthusiastically disseminated across western media, the US, UN, glowingly endorsed by western governments, but comprehensively debunked by Theodore Postol, a professor in the Science, Technology, and Global Security Working Group at MIT –

“It’s clear and unambiguous this munition could not have come from Syrian government-controlled areas as the White House claimed.”

While the western media fell in love with tale of the ‘expert who exposed Syrian chemical weapons from his bedroom‘, other, real, experts (and Higgins has always been completely open about his lack of expertise) were less convinced. Higgins, [url]Postol said[/url], “has done a very nice job collecting information on a website. As far as his analysis, it’s so lacking any analytical foundation it’s clear he has no idea what he’s talking about.”

In January 2015, Bellingcat published a report into events in Mariupol, Ukraine, May 9th, 2014, when Ukrainian forces entered the city, opening fire, resulting in a death count given by Ukrainian sources as over 20, but by some sources as high as 100. Bellingcat took the figure down to 13. Despite video of Ukrainian forces opening fire on unarmed civilians, Bellingcat entirely exonerated them, described them as ‘acting with restraint’.

This exoneration of the actions of Ukrainian forces, and others of its kind, has allowed Eliot Higgins MH17western governments to continue their unconditional support for Ukraine, in the war in Donbass, without question.

Through 2015, Higgins’ Bellingcat rises to become one of the key agents in the MH17 investigation, with Higgins himself frequently trumpeting his appearances across the world’s media. This is despite Bellingcat’s frequently being caught out in fabrications – those MH17 videos which formed the bedrock of Bellingcat’s claims, comprehensively debunked here. Then there was the humiliation of Der Spiegel, one of Europe’s largest publications … issuing an apology for using Bellingcat’s work as a reliable source. German image forensics expert Jens Kriese tore Bellingcat apart here –

‘From the perspective of forensics, the Bellingcat approach is not very robust. The core of what they are doing is based on so-called Error Level Analysis (ELA). The Bellingcatmethod is subjective and not based entirely on science. This is why there is not a single scientific paper that addresses it. Contrary to what Bellingcat claims, Error Level Analysis does not provide clear results.


The conclusion is always based on the perspective of humans, on their interpretation.’This, along with stringent criticism from a range of sources – from the ‘Off-Guardian‘ site -‘Even casual conversation with him reveals the embarrassing truth that his “research”, so lauded in the popular media, consists of entry-level computer skills and an awful lot of smoke-blowing. You or I or literally anyone over the age of seven with internet access could do it. If we thought it was worth while.’

The criticism hasn’t just been limited to text, this German satirical programme did a quite unerring take-off of Higgins –


https://youtu.be/iv7R1IAmWT8


[snip]

Higgins either vehemently hates, or has been told to hate Russia, and Russia’s president Putin. Have a look at his Twitter timeline, of some 127,000 tweets, and it can read at times like one man trolling an entire country. A stream, a barrage, of anti-Russian tweets, retweets, and Higgins doesn’t even try to hide that he despises Russia, or has been told to – this just from a quick ‘Russia‘ search of his recent tweets, and just a small sampling –Screen CapturesWith this taken into account, what conclusion was Higgins’ Bellingcat ever going to come to, apart from that it was Russia, indeed Putin himself, responsible for the tragic downing of MH17? And for the ‘expert’ on Donbass, Higgins has made his feelings similarly clear –Fullscreen capture 28022016 163501.bmp

Higgins hates RT now, never missing a chance to tear into them. Typical tweet –Fullscreen capture 28022016 145812.bmpBut, he used to be proud of their endorsement – this, from 2013 – a list of media he was happy to advertise his connection to.Screen Captures1 So what happened there? I’ve worked for RT, and will say this with all due respect, they are quite modest in the payment they offer. It’s not hard to find channels, and outlets, who pay a lot more.

In the early, Brown Moses, days, Higgins used to make frequent appeals for finances, with support links prominently displayed. However, the current Bellingcat site doesn’t even appear to have a ‘donate’ / ‘support’ option. And Fullscreen capture 28022016 154321.bmpBellingcat has grown to an operation which lists itself as being run by ‘eight volunteers’ but is clearly far in excess of that – a professional website which is updated sometimes with several articles a day, on which extensive research has been expended. But when it’s Bellingcat, all the evidence shows that the research is done to back up a conclusion already arrived at, rather than arrive at a conclusion based on research.

Higgins now works not from home, but from an office, in his hometown of Leicester. So where’s the money coming from for Bellingcat, clearly now an operation requiring considerable financial support? That’s unclear, Higgins has yet to publish any record of where the finance comes from, all the ‘About‘ section of the Bellingcat site says is -‘Bellingcat uses open source and social media investigation to investigate a variety of subjects, from Mexican drug lords to conflicts being fought across the world. Bellingcat brings together contributors who specialise in open source and social media investigation, and creates guides and case studies so others may learn to do the same.’

For a lot of people, it’s highly convenient that Eliot Higgins is an ‘expert’, and his agency Bellingcat taken seriously. This is a man who, with his agency Bellingcat, will absolutely always back the position of western governments, and powerful western organisations. And they’ll do whatever it takes to make sure Eliot Higgins expert 1he’s taken seriously, lay on all the the trappings, auspices of highbrow, on trend terms like ‘open source investigation’ and ‘error level analysis‘, be sure he’s given awards, plaudits, made a ‘fellow’, ‘expert’, at sympathetic organisations, appears at the right seminars, conferences, everything to apply the sheen of credibility.

When it comes to defending himself from criticism, Eliot is adept at deflecting criticism of himself onto the seemingly ‘too cool to criticise ‘open source investigation’, of which he is a leading practitioner. These tweets, from today, in response to his being told this article would be coming out –

Fullscreen capture 28022016 144044.bmpFullscreen capture 28022016 144338.bmp

Yet, what if behind the new, buzz ‘open source’ investigation of Higgins lies just plain old falsification?

This recent, absolutely comprehensive, article makes the point, one yet to have penetrated the public perception of ‘open source Fullscreen capture investigation’, that all this new jazz can be used as the respectable front for one of the oldest scams, falsification – see this tweet on the theme.

Creating social media accounts to post misinformation, free of all the source checks, verification of other sources as this is ‘citizen journalism’ and all things cool, which can’t be questioned because a lot of people don’t really know what they are. This, then passed off, and on, into Bellingcat, and up it goes higher into the food chain of mass media, unquestioned, unchecked.

So you can see why a lot of people really have an interest in making Eliot Higgins out to be an authority, a Fullscreen capture 28022016 153608.bmpreputed source, an expert. Have a look at [ur=http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/about/experts/list/eliot-higginsl]his profile on the Atlantic Council site[/url], an agency funded by governments across the world (25, no less), to promote their position under the guise of being a ‘think tank’. Higgins now works with them, and they call him ‘

Eliot Higgins – Nonresident Senior Fellow, New Information Frontiers, Future Europe Initiative, Expertise Topics, Digital Forensic Research and Open Source Intelligence.’


There’s a real convenience about Higgins. He’s positioned himself as one of the foremost exponents of the still-being-defined ‘open source’. Higgins himself has shaped and defined what we currently know as ‘open source investigation’. And he’s made one of the tenets of it never, ever, needing to go to the place in question.

Eliot Higgins expert

Higgins has never been near the MH17 site, Syria, or anywhere else on where he’s an apparent ‘expert’. Higgins may not go to any of the places he ‘investigates’, but he does travel the world being an ‘expert’ at various conferences, receiving awards – all of these used (and used by Higgins himself, who doesn’t shy from self-promotion , making extensive mention on Twitter of his own participation at conferences, using a photo from such for his profile) to propagate ‘Higgins, the expert.

It’s very handy for some people, having a guy who doesn’t need to be sent anywhere, who, from his sofa, can quickly come up with the conclusions so beloved of western press, and governments. He’s also clearly a hard worker, dogmatic, persistent, the man who used to spend endless hours gaming now happy to spend that time on Bellingcat ‘investigations’. Higgins took part in the official MH17 investigation, and even boasted about knowing the result of the MH17 report before it was released – so sure was he, he even challenged me to a bet over it (I declined).

So, make your own mind up.

Who is Eliot Higgins, and Bellingcat, really? Are they indeed the experts the Eliot Higgins Bellingcrapwestern media would have us believe?

Or are we being stitched up by a man either of limited abilities plunged into the limelight, making the most of all that goes with it – fawning western media write ‘He often doesn’t finish sentences, as if his mind is racing elsewhere‘ – but could it be, that Higgins is actually rather simply rather a dim man, being used, and fine with that, by higher powers?

Or is Higgins actually an intelligent calculating individual, who has exploited the opportunity to make a name for himself, make a lot of money? One thing about Higgins is sure. He’s a liar. A conman. A charlatan. And whatever associations the name ‘Higgins’ and ‘Bellingcat’ have now, the future can surely only be these names associated with fabrication, fraud, a scam. All that will be debated, is whether Higgins is a latter-day Donald Crowhurst, a hapless man forced into a web of deceit, or a Bernie Madoff, who knew just what he was doing all along.

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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby Elvis » Thu Nov 22, 2018 3:01 am

More on Higgens, Bellingcat and much more!

1. Shorter MintPress News piece drawn from the Mark Ames report:
https://www.mintpressnews.com/collabora ... rt/251185/
Collaboration of Bellingcat Founder and ISIS Twitter Account Exposed in New Report

Western “experts” like Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat and the Atlantic Council frequently promoted the ShamiWitness account despite its frequent promotion of Daesh talking points and brutal deeds.


2. Mark Ames' report from about a month ago:

http://exiledonline.com/shamiwitness-wh ... n-twitter/

Featured / October 27, 2018
ShamiWitness: When Bellingcat & Neocons Collaborated With The Most Influential ISIS Propagandist On Twitter
By Mark Ames


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Who remembers @ShamiWitness? At the peak of ISIS’s power, @ShamiWitness stood out as the genocidal militia group’s “most influential Twitter account” according to a Channel 4 exposé and a Kings College report. The @ShamiWitness account was followed by some two-thirds of foreign jihadis. But it went further than propogandizing Islamic State’s massacres and rapes: @Shamiwitness also actively recruited foreign jihadis and helped lead them through the ratlines in Turkey, into the ISIS killing fields in Syria and Iraq, as a George Washington University report revealed this year.

But I want to talk about the western “experts” in Washington and London who cozied up to @ShamiWitness — especially since all of them are still around, many of them bigger and more influential in our political discourse than ever. They’re the ones who built up @ShamiWitness’s social media capital, making his account so popular, and so effective, in recruiting ISIS murderers. Some of the best known Syria regime-change hustlers and “experts”—Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat and the Saudi-funded Atlantic Council; Charles Lister of the Saudi-funded Middle East Institute, former CNN “Syria expert” and Atlantic Council fellow Michael Weiss, all major figures promoting today’s RussiaGate hysteria—together helped transform the @ShamiWitness account from a cretinous troll into a credible “ISIS expert”. They validated and lent credibility to ShamiWitness as someone with deep, local insider knowledge, boosting ShamiWitness’s social capital their countless retweets, #FF’s, #Pt’s, and their numerous public interactions.

As it turned out, @ShamiWitness was a fake “Syria expert”. The millennial yuppie who ran the ShamiWitness account was as much an insider expert on ISIS as the western Syria hacks who boosted him. It wasn’t the “experts” like Bellingcat who unmasked ShamiWitness — quite the opposite, Bellingcat’s team played a major role in building him up as a credible expert. Rather, it was a Channel 4 report exposing ShamiWitness as a fake — but a very dark and dangerous fake, with very real world consequences. @ShamiWitness was run by a 24-year-old Indian marketing executive named Mehdi Masroor Biswas, who tweeted out ISIS and Syria “expertise” from his bachelor pad in Bangalore, India.

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And just like that, the London and Washington Syria regime-change neocons who’d been boosting @ShamiWitness suddenly looked like fools — as well as ISIS accessories. Contrary to what they had all assumed, @ShamiWitness wasn’t the expert Syria insider he pretended to be. He spoke no Arabic; he was nowhere near Syria.

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The ShamiWitness account was every bit as sick, sectarian and vile as you’d expect from ISIS’s leading Twitter account. In its brief gory heyday, ISIS was responsible for slaughtering somewhere between 50,000 – 100,000 people in Iraq and Syria, enslaving, raping and exterminating untold thousands of Yezidis and other minorities in the region. Which makes it all the more shocking how these western experts, most of whose careers are still thriving today, bigger than ever in fact, were able to get away with being accessories to ISIS propaganda and recruiting efforts. It wasn’t as though they couldn’t have known ShamiWitness was a monster. A year before ShamiWitness was unmasked, Michael Kelley called out reporters (including himself) for being accessories to ShamiWitness’s social media influence, but he was practically alone in that.

Here are a few gruesome examples of ShamiWitness’s Twitter account in action:

- In 2014, responding to reports out of Kobane that ISIS attackers were raping and mutilating female Kurdish soldiers, ShamiWitness gleefully tweeted:
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- As his Islamic State heroes were posting selfies of their Kurdish female trophies [WARNING GRAPHIC]:
[see original for image. - Elvis] http://exiledonline.com/wp-content/uplo ... 65x374.jpg

- …ShamiWitness tweeted out sick ISIS jokes about murdered Kurds like this:

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ShamiWitness swooned over ISIS’s murder porn, relentlessly promoting and tweeting out ISIS execution and beheading videos on Twitter. ShamiWitness repeatedly tweeted out ISIS videos of American hostage Peter Kassig’s beheading execution within minutes after they were first posted, feeding bloodlust to his thousands of foreign jihadi followers.

And he did his best to inflame sectarian hatreds, gearing up ISIS foreign recruits for the killing fields:

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Despite thousands of vile tweets like that, ShamiWitness was a popular figure among the Syria regime-change “expert” crowd. One of those experts who’s been in the news a lot lately is Eliot Higgins of the Atlantic Council/Bellingcat cyber-sleuth group. Bellingcat have made themselves darlings of the western press — and western intelligence agencies — with their investigative reports targeting NATO’s adversaries, primarily Russia and Syria. After making headlines for tying Russia to the downing of Malaysian Air Flight 17, and unmasking the alleged GRU poisoners in Salisbury, Higgins and his crew have received unanimous glowing press in the BBC, New York Times, Washington Post and elsewhere — along with funding from the Saudi-financed Atlantic Council, and the US government’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a regime-change front set up by Reagan’s ghoulish CIA chief, Bill Casey. (The NED’s first chief, Allen Weinstein admitted to the Washington Post, “A lot of what we do today was done covertly twenty-five years ago by the CIA.”)

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Here is Higgins throwing out a big #FF — or “FollowFriday” — recommending the ISIS propagandist to his followers:

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- And again (For the mercifully uninitiated, “#FF” is how you recommend other accounts to your own followers to follow. #FF is a key part of any brand-building strategy. You #FF someone who you think will make you look good, and who you hope will #FF you back to their followers. This is how ambitious Twitter propagandists build brand following):

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- Here’s the Bellingcat founder promoting some ISIS slaughter porn tweeted out by ShamiWitness—in this case, an ISIS video gloating over murdered Kurdish women:

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- Here is the Bellingcat sleuth engaging in what passes for witty Twitter repartee with ShamiWitness, joking about devastating ISIS suicide bomber vehicles that have killed and mutilated untold thousands in Syria and Iraq. But for Bellingcat and ShamiWitness, there’s a Gallagher joke in it:

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- And here’s Higgins offering helpful Twitter tips to ISIS’s top recruiter on how to deal with ISIS’s online critics:

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Higgins began his “open source intelligence” career under a misleading avatar — “BrownMoses” — as if Higgins, a doughy pinkish Midlands gamer, was some kind of swarthy Middle Easterner whose friends’ and relatives’ lives were at stake. Oddly reminiscent of a Mehdi Masroor Biswas pretending to be a ShamiWitness (Shami meaning “Syria”). How could ace sleuths Bellingcat not know that ShamiWitness was a fraud, let alone a propagandist for mass murder and enslavement? As online open source experts, they should’ve had no problem unmasking ShamiWitness. Slate reported how it was “fairly easy to doxx” ShamiWitness after all, based on his giant dumb social media footprints under his real name and real life in Bangalore, accounts which were carelessly linked to his ShamiWitness accounts.

Nevertheless, Higgins and his Bellingcat boys were gobsmacked when the ISIS “expert” they’d been #FFing and conversing with for two years turned out to be a fake. And when ShamiWitness was unmasked, rather than owning up to it and trying to understand how he’d been duped, Higgins tried to turn it all into a fatuous joke, in a strangely transparent attempt to minimize the whole scandal and make it go away:

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Higgins’ efforts to downplay ShamiWitness were deliberately misleading as well as childish. He was trying to cover his own ass over having been duped by a Bangalore dweeb with blood on his hands. We now know from detailed terrorism studies that ShamiWitness was not on “toilet cleaning duty” as Higgins quipped—he very literally led foreign jihadi recruits into the Syrian and Iraqi killing fields, and inspired one of ISIS’s most gruesome foreign terrorist attacks, in Dhaka.

You had to try really hard not to know what you were getting involved in with ShamiWitness, and in case you were trying too hard, ShamiWitness boasted what he was up to, such as this tweet to another chummy Washington regime-change operative and former Vice guy, Danny Gold:

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Mere boasts about ISIS terrorism did not cause Gold any hesitation in brand-building with ShamiWitness:

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For now, let’s move on to more familiar names in the DC-London regime-change swamp.


- Here is ubiquitous regime-change hack Charles Lister, of the Saudi-financed Middle East Institute, logrolling with Higgins and ShamiWitness like something out of a “how to build your social media brand” workshop:

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Here’s a string of Lister-ShamiWitness-Bellingcat logrolling episodes:

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See, this is how you cross-build a community of “experts” on social media: tagging and referencing your circle enough times to create an impression of something happening, a self-validated “community of Syria experts.” All of them benefited from it, including ShamiWitness. Only the Syrian and Iraqi people suffered.

But “Jihad Lister” (as Special Forces vet Jack Murphy calls him) went further than logrolling with ShamiWitness, blowing kisses to the ISIS propagandist/recruiter in ways that are downright sickening:

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Here, for example, is Lister yukking it up with ShamiWitness over a particularly brutal Saudi-led militia group, Suqur al-Izz, an ally of both ISIS and Al Qaeda’s al-Nusra — and which carried out savage massacres of hundreds of minority Alawite civilians in Latakia province (documented in a Human Rights Watch report). To Lister and his ISIS friend, it’s all good for an ironic laugh:

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To which ShamiWitness reminded Lister:

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…prompting a “right back atcha” from his chum Lister:

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Naturally, this sordid ISIS-neocon Twitter orgy features serial Thesaurus-abuser Michael Weiss, the Daily Beast’s tenured regime-change hack. There’s a lot of love going back and forth between the two. Perhaps most astonishing is ShamiWitness declaring Michael Weiss as his favorite journalist, Weiss going wobbly at the knees in gratitude, and the ISIS recruiter blowing him a smiley:

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Weiss blows a smiley back at the ISIS recruiter:

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- Weiss seconding a ShamiWitness endorsement by Aaron Zelin of the hawkish AIPAC spinoff, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Zelin also worked for Bellingcat.

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Incredible as it may seem, around the time of this ShamiWitness love-fest, this same group—Weiss, Zelin, and Bellingcat—soon ganged up on another and far better Syria analyst, Aymenn Al Tamimi, accusing him of—are you ready?—being too friendly on Twitter with ISIS. The think-tank neocons accused Tamimi of having turned into a terrorist. In fact, Tamimi’s real sin was debunking an inane Michael Weiss conspiracy article that claimed Iran and ISIS were “secret allies” in Syria.

Weiss was of course wrong—being consistently wrong is what Weiss is paid to do for a living.

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This is the same Michael Weiss who posted a similar conspiracy theory claiming Russia secretly served as ISIS’s air force in Syria. Weiss gets things wrongs as a rule, because being wrong is his career. It’s a job not many people are willing to do, or capable of doing without triggering a gag reflex. Michael Weiss gargles made-to-order shit without so much as a chaser. He is, quite literally, a tenured failure. There’s a lot of dark demand for this kind of work, and very few willing takers. You need to believe you’re some kind of evil genius, pulling a fast one on all the honest rubes, to get off on this kind of work.

Weiss also struck up all sorts of sleazy relationships with Syrian jihadis, and even posed for selfies in a jihadi-controlled section of Aleppo in 2012:

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As Max Blumenthal reported, the jihadi on Weiss’s left was believed to be Syrian rebel commander Yousef Ajjan Al-Hadid, who was killed shortly after Weiss’s selfie. And the other guy with the AK, the one who looks like Harold Ramis, is Mahmoud Sheikh al-Zour, who ran his own rebel training camp in northern Syria, and worked in Al Qaeda-dominated Idlib as well as Aleppo.

So you’d think Weiss and his crew would be a little more circumspect about accusing a far more serious Syria analyst like Tamimi of being a jihadist sympathizer—but hypocrisy never bothered a neocon. And anyway, their gang hit on Tamimi’s reputation had nothing to do with jihadi sympathies, and everything to do with making Weiss look bad. So the syndicate took a break from brand-building with ShamiWitness, to try to sink Tamimi’s career by smearing him as a terrorist symp. The job was handed to an aspiring young neocon larva named Armin Rosen — previously known for defending a racist hate-group leader’s use of “Islamo-fascism” — who published the hit piece in Business Insider, headlined “The Remarkable Story of a Rising Terrorism Analyst Who Got Too Close To His Subjects”.

Rosen’s article begins with the goal reported as fact:

Aymenn Al Tamimi’s career came apart in public last week.

A couple paragraphs down, the article explains how:

almost from the beginning, his links to known jihadis — including members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), arguably the most ruthless of such groups — and a habit of firing off tweets and social media posts appearing to sympathize with their cause raised eyebrows among his colleagues in the tightly knit, scholarly community of Western-based terrorism analysts.

Next paragraph comes the bombshell evidence, in the form of a non sequitur:

On July 14, Al Tamimi, who had been cited in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post and had appeared on BBC News, published an article attempting to debunk journalist Michael Weiss’s evidence that Iran was aiding ISIS, which now controls a roughly Belgium-sized slice of Iraq and Syria.


This is where the “tightly knit” syndicate comes in—it’s not about evidence or expository logic; the evidence is what the self-appointed “community” decides is evidence. In this instance, it was Bellingcat that pulled the pulled open the trap door:

[Tamimi’s] article was cross-posted to Bellingcat, the online publication launched by Eliot Higgins, the renowned investigative journalist most famous for helping to prove the Syrian regime’s responsibility for the August 21, 2013, chemical weapons attack in Damascus.

But within days the article had been pulled from Bellingcat and Tamimi had been dropped as a contributor to the site, a development Higgins confirmed for Business Insider by email early last week.

Higgins cited serious accusations that had surfaced on Twitter after fellow terrorism analysts had aired evidence suggesting that Tamimi was discomfortingly close with some of his sources in the jihadist world.

Weiss linked to a conversation in which Tamimi told an apparent ISIS supporter that it was “best not openly tweeting” pro-Caliphate sympathies, and that his “bro,” the pro-ISIS Twitter user Shami Witness, “suggested I should stick to objectivity on Twitter.”

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a senior fellow at the the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, called the exchange “pretty disturbing.”


That would be this Daveed Gartenstein-Ross:

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This is a classic neocon smear strategy—activate the network to create the impression that the character smear is a consensus opinion by experts from different backgrounds, and drive the stake in the heart with a retraction. In this case, Bellingcat’s Eliot Higgins played executioner in the Tamimi smear. Higgins and his Bellingcat crew have come a long way since this smear on Tamimi. These days, Bellingcat are media celebrities, fronting for western intelligence agencies’ information wars against Russia and Syria. Eliot Higgins and Bellingcat have positioned themselves as a “pro-NATO Wikileaks” exposing the lies and crimes of NATO’s adversaries, racking up lucrative grants from Google, the Atlantic Council, and Bill Casey’s old regime-change front, the National Endowment for Democracy, along the way.

To Tamimi’s credit, he was one of the very few Syria analysts or journalists who publicly owned up to his own role in lending credibility to ShamiWitness’s Twitter account. Unlike Weiss, Zelin, Lister, Higgins or any of the other Bellingcats, who never owned up to their own role as accessories to ShamiWitness, Tamimi had the integrity to write about and explore his own mistakes, and to try to learn from those mistakes. And despite Bellingcat’s best efforts, Tamimi is still around, blogging at Syria Comment—a site edited by one of the very few American Syria experts to actually get the Syria war right—Professor Joshua Landis, who heads the Center for Middle East Studies at U. Oklahoma, and who appeared on Radio War Nerd early this year.

Being right about Syria is, as I’ve said, the only sin in this business. So you might not be surprised to learn that Michael Weiss and ShamiWitness teamed up against Landis. Actually it’s worse: Weiss and ShamiWitness ganged up on Landis by making menacing attacks on Landis’s Syrian-born wife and her family, who are members of Syria’s minority Alawite sect, which has been targeted for extermination by groups supported by ShamiWitness, Weiss and the rest of this DC-London regime-change crowd.

Here is the ShamiWeiss-Landis exchange, in which Weiss tags his ISIS pal to attack Professor Landis’s inlaws, many of whom still live in Syria:

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After Weiss tagged in ISIS’s top propagandist to attack Landis’s Alawite wife and in-laws, he reached for his trusty Thesaurus to deliver what passes for a witty coup de grace, in what passes for the pen of Michael Weiss:

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We’ve spent enough time on these sleazy goons. Let’s name some more western “experts” who boosted and promoted the @ShamiWitness account:

- Phillip Smyth of AIPAC spinoff the Washington Institute for Near East Studies:

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- Faysal Itani, Senior Fellow at the Saudi-funded Atlantic Council:

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- Here is the Intercept’s Micah Lee, a privacy activist who promotes US government-funded crypto technologies like Tor and Signal, offering to help ShamiWitness conceal his online communications:

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- Oz Katerji, yet another ex-Bellingcat “Team” member (sensing a pattern here…)

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Borzou Daraghi of the Atlantic Council (another pattern) and formerly Buzzfeed:

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Liz Sly of the Washington Post:

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- Elizabeth Tsurkov, an Israeli analyst who later boasted of her close friendship with members of the Saudi-backed jihadist group Jaysh al-Islam, notorious for caging Syrian minorities:

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- Michael Weiss’s co-author, Hassan Hassan:

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But how could they have known? some might ask. Indeed, how—not like our Syria experts could be bothered to read the tweets of those accounts they’ve helped promote or anything:

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In fact, they all knew, but only a very few cared to call it out, and got nothing for it. A year before ShamiWitness was unmasked by Channel 4, Michael Kelley of Business Insider (now editor at Yahoo News) published a piece, “One Of The Most Popular Sources on Syria Happens To Be An Extremist Supporter” calling out reporters and experts like himself for being accessories to ShamiWitness/ISIS propaganda:

“[H]e remains a noticeable voice in the Syria discussion. That is uncomfortable for analysts and reporters (including this author) who have directly or indirectly facilitated Shami’s rise, even if the lift merely involved a citation, a retweet, or friendly banter.”


After ShamiWitness was exposed in December 2014, Syria journalists and experts who hadn’t been part of the ShamiWitness Dupe Brigade called out the hacks who’d made ShamiWitness a powerful and influential propagandist.

For example, Zaid Benjamin of Radio Sawa bitterly tweeted:

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In the months and years since ShamiWitness’s account was unmasked and the young man behind it arrested, we’ve learned that ShamiWitness was more than just ISIS’s most influential propagandist on Twitter.

Two of the ISIS Bangladeshi jihadis who carried out the gruesome 2016 Dhaka attack were avid followers of Shamiwitness. That attack left 29 dead —including 9 Italians, 5 women and 4 men, all of whose bodies showed signs of gruesome torture, punishment for anyone who couldn’t cite verses from the Koran.

Indian authorities also discovered that ShamiWitness helped recruit Areef Majid and his group of ISIS jihadist recruits from Kalyan, near Mumbai. Majid fought for ISIS in Iraq and Syria, before escaping in late 2014—like a lot of foreign recruits who started getting cold feet after the US-led coalition and Kurdish fighters made life harder for the Islamic State’s army of sadists and genocidaires.

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And this year, a report by the George Washington University Program on Extremism, titled “The Travelers. American Jihadists in Syria and Iraq” revealed just how intimately involved ShamiWitness was in ISIS recruiting and logistics, guiding foreign jihadis to the ISIS rape camps and killing fields in Syria and Iraq.

The report goes deep into the experience of an American ISIS recruit, “Mo,” who was “one of the first Americans to go to Syria [to fight for ISIS].” In June 2014, the FBI paid a visit to “Mo” after monitoring his online interactions with the likes of ShamiWitness. Shortly afterwards, Mo bought a one-way ticket to Istanbul, and made his way to a Turkish town called Urfa (or “Şanlıurfa” in Turkish). From accounts like ShamiWitness “Mo” understood that to join ISIS, Urfa “was the place to go.”

Here, the George Washington U report describes how Shamiwitness led “Mo” to his ISIS handlers:

“While analysis of @Shamiwitness’ activities to date paint him merely as a propaganda disseminator for IS, it seems that his role may have in fact also been one of direct facilitation for would-be Western travelers. While in Şanlıurfa, Mo used Twitter to reach out to @Shamiwitness, who put him in touch with three local IS facilitators, including a British IS member called Abu Rahman al-Britani. Using Kik, the encrypted messenger of choice for IS travelers at the time, he reached out to al-Britani. Mo was then given a number for an IS smuggler and told by al-Britani that he could use him for tazkiya, a vetting process whereby a known fighter vouches for a new member to other IS members.”


So people in Syria and Iraq were killed, kidnapped, tortured and raped. And ShamiWitness is rotting in an Indian prison somewhere. That’s not their problem. Eliot Higgins and Michael Weiss have moved on to bigger things now. Their power network is a lot bigger too. And they can prove beyond a doubt that if you question their research, you might be working for the enemy. Why else would anyone question their expertise?



Mark Ames is the co-host of the Radio War Nerd podcast. Subscribe to Radio War Nerd on Patreon.



Read more: Bellingcat, Eliot Higgins, ISIS, Islamic State, michael weiss, neocons, propaganda, Shami Witness, twitter, Mark Ames, Featured

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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby Elvis » Thu Nov 22, 2018 3:16 am

Meanwhile in Idlib...

https://www.mintpressnews.com/idlibs-re ... ve/252045/
Idlib’s Rebels Unite Under Al Qaeda Banner While Syria Prepares Offensive

November 19th, 2018
By Whitney Webb

DAMASCUS, SYRIA – While the conflict in Syria has largely faded from the news following the Idlib demilitarization agreement primarily brokered by Russia and Turkey in mid-September, a new Syrian military report cited by Al Masdar News claims that the Syrian military is set to begin a long-anticipated, major military offensive to retake the Idlib province from rebel groups.

Though the demilitarization agreement reduced the urgency for an imminent military offensive, rebel groups within Idlib through much of October repeatedly launched significant attacks on nearby government-held areas of Syria, resulting in exchanges of fire between rebels and the Syrian Army and greatly increasing the likelihood that the demilitarization agreement will soon collapse.

As a result, the Syrian Army appears to be moving forward with the offensive it had originally planned to begin in September. In one indication of this plan, over the weekend the Syrian Army closed the Morek crossing between government and rebel-held territory after rebels shelled nearby Syrian army positions. Al Masdar noted that the closure of the crossing is “one of the first steps the Syrian military is taking to prepare for this upcoming security operation in the southeastern countryside of Idlib.”

Al Masdar further noted that the Syrian military’s Tiger Forces, currently deployed at the Abu Dhuhour Military Airport, will be leading the offensive, which has apparently been approved by Syrian and Russian military leadership.


With rebels unified in al Qaeda branch, no “moderate rebels” to protect

While the repeated attacks launched by the rebels following the ostensible “demilitarization” of the province certainly weakened the agreement, another overlooked factor that has made that agreement entirely useless is the recent announcement that all of the rebels in the Idlib province have now united under the single banner of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). HTS is the rebel collective formerly known as al-Nusra Front, which is Syria’s al Qaeda branch.

Last Wednesday, American-born ‘journalist’ and al-Nusra Front “media man” Bilal Abdul Kareem published a video on YouTube in which he interviewed al-Nusra Front/HTS spokesman Abu Khaled. In the video, Khaled states that “all factions” within the Idlib province have now formed a “joint operations room” to plan military operations, increase military readiness, and strike any person who seeks to contact “the [Syrian] regime or its Russian cronies” with an “iron fist.” Khaled added that this cooperation includes “all factions [in Idlib] without exemption” and that this was the “first time” that all Idlib rebels had united under one banner.

Prior to this announcement, HTS/al-Nusra was the largest faction in Syria’s Idlib, with an estimated 10,000 fighters. Over the past few years, it has come to dominate much of Syria’s rebel-held territory, a fact that has even been admitted by mainstream Western media since early last year. Now, as their own spokesman has revealed, this trend has reached its fulfillment, with HTS/al-Nusra now dominating “all factions without exemption” in Syria’s Idlib.

Watch | al-Nusra (HTS) admits that all Idlib rebels now united under al-Nusra control


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GZ8llIUkHk

With all Idlib rebels now operating under the al Qaeda banner, it is no longer possible to make the assertion that the province includes “moderate rebels.” Furthermore, given that the Idlib demilitarization agreement was created with the aim of separating “moderate rebels” from groups like the al-Nusra Front, the fact that the rebel groups have instead united behind al-Nusra eliminates the agreement’s entire purpose for existing: there are no longer any “moderate rebels” in the region to protect, by the rebels’ own admission.

As a result of this development, the Syrian military’s efforts to retake the province have likely been approved by both Syrian and Russian leadership not only to halt the continuing attacks on government-held areas around Idlib but also to target a region now undeniably under the control of a terror organization.

Idlib as buffer for Syria’s U.S.-controlled, resource-rich northeast

Yet, even though HTS itself has admitted that all rebels in Idlib are now under its command, it remains to be seen how the U.S. will react to an upcoming Syrian military offensive targeting the province. Indeed, prior to the demilitarization agreement reached on September 17, the Trump administration threatened to attack Syria for “any attack” it launched against Idlib, whether or not there were allegations of chemical weapon use.

Image
A White Helmets banner towers over a Syrian rebel checkpoint Idlib, Syria, late Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. Ugur Can | DHA via AP

At the time, top U.S. government officials claimed that militants in the province are “not terrorists, but people fighting a civil war against a brutal dictator.” However, just a year earlier, the U.S. government’s Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL (Daesh, ISIS) Brett McGurk called Syria’s Idlib province “the largest al Qaeda safe haven since 9/11, tied directly to Ayman al-Zawahiri [current leader of al Qaeda],” immediately adding that al Qaeda’s presence in Idlib was a “huge problem” and had been so “for some time.”

It seems unlikely that the U.S. will suddenly admit that it has been protecting an al Qaeda enclave in Idlib. Indeed, the U.S. knows that if the Syrian military succeeds in driving rebels from Idlib, its next target will be the 30 percent of Syrian territory currently occupied by the U.S. in the country’s northeast. That area includes more than 90 percent of all Syria’s oil and gas potential, as well as most of its agricultural and freshwater resources.

Thus, the U.S. will likely do all it can to prevent an upcoming Syrian military offensive in Idlib, with the aim of protecting its own interests in Syria, even if it means backing a force of rebels united in their allegiance to al Qaeda.

Top Photo | A Syrian ‘rebel’ – now fighting under the al-Nusra banner – stands at a checkpoint in northwestern city of Idlib, Syria, Oct. 13, 2018. Ugur Can | DHA via AP



https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/11/ ... ting-Syria
Germany, EU funding militants in Idlib: Tagesspiegel
Mon Nov 12, 2018 08:32AM

HomeMiddle EastSyria

The German government and other EU members are funding militants still present in Idlib and involved in a conflict against the Syrian army, Germany's Tagesspiegel newspaper has revealed.

According to the report cited by British daily the Telegraph on Sunday, "no less than 37.5 million euros" has been transferred to militant groups in Idlib by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In total, Berlin has paid nearly 49 million euros to militants fighting to topple the Syrian government and facilitated the transfer of similar funds by other EU members, it added.

Those funds included "11.3 million other sources, or 17 million euros from the European Union, for which Germany would have played an intermediary role."

According to the report, the German government does not communicate the precise list of recipients of the funds for fear of angering Russia and other sides involved in the Syria war.

The information was revealed in an answer given by German Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Walter Lindner to a question asked by Member of European Parliament Evrim Sommer, to which Tagesspiegel was able to have access.

The report comes after German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with Russian and Turkish leaders in Istanbul late last month to discuss a solution to the Syria conflict.

Ankara has long backed militants seeking to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, while Moscow is a close ally of the Syrian government in its relentless fight against foreign-backed terrorists.

Merkel apparently rejected Russian President Vladimir Putin's call to financially contribute to Syria's reconstruction after they met outside Berlin in August.

Germany is a member of a US-led coalition which has been bombarding Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Syrian government or a UN mandate.

Just recently, Berlin said it was in talks with Washington and other allies about a possible involvement in airstrikes on Syria if it used chemical weapons.

Syria and Russia have warned of a "false flag" chemical attack by militants in order to give the US and its allies an excuse to target Syrian troops which have sought to evict terrorists from their last stronghold in Idlib.

Germany has reportedly deployed special forces to northern Syria to aid US-backed Kurdish militants. In September, Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said Germany would not reject a possible longer-term deployment of troops to the Middle East.

She made the remarks during a visit to the Azraq air base in Jordan where some 300 German troops are operating as part of the US-led coalition.

The US and its allies characterize their military presence in the region as part of their war on Daesh, but fiercely oppose a final push by Syrian troops against terrorists in Idlib.

Extremists from across Europe joined Daesh in droves in 2014, when the Takfiri terror group launched its campaign of bloodshed and destruction in Iraq and Syria.

Back then, many European leaders ignored repeated warnings that militants could return home one day and that they would pose a security challenge for years to come across the continent.

Last month, Germany said more than a hundred militants, who had been fighting in Iraq and Syria, had returned to the country, but among them only dozens were being investigated for possible terror links.

German Interior Ministry said in a statement that they knew of 124 people, who were part of at least 249 people who had traveled from Germany to Iraq and Syria.

Meanwhile, some 40 percent of at least 900 Britons who traveled to Syria to join Daesh had returned to the United Kingdom, but UK counter-terrorism chief Neil Basu said they were no longer considered a main threat.
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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby JackRiddler » Fri Nov 23, 2018 12:21 am

.

Elvis, your first 22 Nov post -- phenomenal work by Ames exposing Bellingcat.

Also, grateful to you for reproducing all those graphics here.

.
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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby JackRiddler » Fri Nov 23, 2018 6:54 pm


https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/11/ ... 49540.html

'Immense loss for Syria': Gunmen kill Idlib activist Raed Fares
Raed Fares, who heads Kafranbel-based Radio Fresh and survived a 2014 ISIL shooting, dies in gun attack, reports say.

23 November 2018

Gunmen in Syria's rebel-held Idlib province have killed Raed Fares, a prominent activist who ran an independent radio station in the country's last opposition stronghold.

Fares was shot on Friday along with his colleague Hamoud Juneid in the town of Kafranbel, according to their Radio Fresh station.

Fares and Juneid were "shot dead by unknown assailants riding a van in Kafranbel", Fresh FM, which provides independent news and satirises both President Bashar al-Assad and opposition groups, said in a post on Facebook.

Salman, a 33-year-old mathematics teacher, who witnessed the attack, told the Middle East Eye website that attackers in a van driving "at high speed ... fired shots from a machine gun, before speeding away".

Juneid died during the attack while Fares died of his wounds at the Orient Hospital, Middle East Eye reported.

Fares gained prominence early in the uprising against Assad, which began with mass demonstrations in 2011 and slid into civil war, with protest banners that drew international attention on social media.

The banners targeted Assad, his allies Iran and Russia, Western powers that Fares portrayed as selling out ordinary Syrians through their response to the crisis, and the various armed groups who had emerged in the chaos.

Fares, who survived a 2014 gun attack by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, known as ISIS) armed group, also distributed photographs and video clips showing the toll that war was taking in Kafranbel, providing a picture of life in rebel-held parts of Syria where it was dangerous for foreign media to visit.

In his last posts on Twitter on September 21, Fares wrote about a demonstration against "Russia, Assad and all kinds of terrorism".

He also posted a picture of himself with his two sons at the rally as thousands took to the streets across Idlib to protest against a potential full-fledged offensive by government forces and their allies.

View image on Twitter


Raed Fares

@RaedFares4
Kafranbel 21 Sep 2018
Me and my sons: Mohamad & Ahmad
Kafranbel Demonstration

379
9:14 AM - Sep 21, 2018
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Raed Fares

@RaedFares4
Kafranbel: 21 Sep 2018
Demonstration against Russia, Assad and all kinds of Terrorism
the song says: "Syria will be a Free Country"
PART 2

145
8:00 AM - Sep 21, 2018
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In an opinion piece in June in the Washington Post, calling for the United States to resume financial support for Radio Fresh, Fares wrote that "the terrorist groups [and the government] see us as a direct threat".

He told Al Jazeera in 2015 that Radio Fresh was the "most beautiful and important thing" he ever did.

By his own account, his offices were targeted both by government bombardment and by armed groups, who abducted and tortured him several times.

But he told Al Jazeera that though he had the means to leave Syria, he intended to stay until Assad was defeated.

'Calamity'
News of Fares' killing triggered an outpouring of grief on social media.

Nasser Weddady, a US-based political analyst, called Fares' death an "immense loss to the cause of freedom in Syria and beyond", while Marietje Schaake, a member of the European Parliament, said she saw his "legacy as a task for all of us, to keep supporting Syrians who risk everything for democracy and liberty".

View image on Twitter


Weddady

@weddady
R.I.P Raed Fares, the bravest nonviolent man I ever met. An immense loss to the cause of freedom in Syria and beyond.

284
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Marietje Schaake

@MarietjeSchaake
· 9h
#RaedFares peacefully fought for a free #Syria; free from the Assad dictatorship and free from jihadists like ISIS. That caused him to have many enemies, after all, his brave and effective reporting reached people all over the world 1/3


Marietje Schaake

@MarietjeSchaake
He survived an assassination attempt by ISIS, but more than enemies, Raed had many admirers. His loved ones and the people of Syria have lost in Raed an example, a man who chose to lead and speak up, despite the harshest repression. I wish his loved ones comfort and support 2/3

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8:40 AM - Nov 23, 2018
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See Marietje Schaake's other Tweets
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Others described Fares' death as a "calamity".


İyad el-Baghdadi | إياد البغدادي

@iyad_elbaghdadi
Replying to @iyad_elbaghdadi
The stream of terrible news continue to pummel us. Such an irreplaceable loss. Such a calamity.

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6:12 AM - Nov 23, 2018
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Joseph Willits
@josephwillits
Awful news from Syria, that prominent activist Raed Fares from Kafranbel was assassinated alongside fellow activist Hammoud Jned. You will remember the pro-democracy banners and posters from Kafranbel, critical of the regime and Islamist extremists https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/prom ... 1783465211

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Haid Haid
@HaidHaid22
More sad news from Syria. Raed Fares and Hammud Junayd, two of the sharp minds behind the great protest banners and activities in Kafranbel were assassinated overnight ( most likely by HTS). May their souls rest in peace.

44
8:08 AM - Nov 23, 2018
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The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based war monitor, has reported a succession of assassinations in Idlib over the past year targeting leaders from the area's major factions and political dissidents who publicly disagree with their governance.

The Hay'et Tahrir al-Sham alliance is the most powerful of several groups present in Idlib province.

A Russian-Turkish deal to prevent further fighting in northwest Syria has for now averted a planned government offensive.

Last edited by JackRiddler on Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby Belligerent Savant » Sat Nov 24, 2018 2:22 pm

JackRiddler » Thu Nov 22, 2018 11:21 pm wrote:.

Elvis, your first 22 Nov post -- phenomenal work by Ames exposing Bellingcat.

Also, grateful to you for reproducing all those graphics here.

.


Agreed. Ames' piece should not be surprising for anyone critically analyzing these events in the last ~2yrs.

While we may offer the benefit of the doubt that the historical citing/pasting (with minimal/no disclaimers, context, or caveats) of content from these hacks were inserted into RI threads, however ill-informed, as a means to offer a 'perspective' of events as they unfolded, I'd suggest that moving forward, ANY content by the following vermin should be flagged here as Blatant PROPAGANDA moving forward:

Bellingcat/Eliot Higgins
Michael Weiss
Aaron Zelin
Atlantic Council

They -- and others of their ilk -- are willing tools in the dissimenation of mis/disinformation, with devastating consequences to the lives of many.
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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby JackRiddler » Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:05 pm

.

I agree while asking you to use less rodential rhetoric. They may be assholes, liars, paid liars, self-interested liars, regime propagandists barely under cover, all that, but let's avoid the dehumanizing words and their historical evocations.

.
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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby Belligerent Savant » Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:21 pm

.

Fair point. But the sentiment, given the consequences of their* actions, is warranted. The actions of these hacks have negatively impacted attempts at critical discussion everywhere, including here, demonstrably.

I will say no more on this.


("their" as in the "media writers" referenced above - clarity needed in an effort to avoid apparent confusion)
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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:24 pm

members here should have the right to post without being accused of being disfo...you need to stop it..it is against the rules

The charge or insinuation of "disinfo agent" can almost never be proven, and poisons and often ends meaningful discussion. Therefore suggesting a poster is purposefully spreading disinformation is not permitted.

viewforum.php?f=36


I am not confused about what you are posting...just stop

you are perfectly able to post what you what and so is everyone else here...you can post your point of view and so can everyone else without you accusing them of disfo...

you say "I will post no more about this" sure after the damage done :roll:
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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby Rory » Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:48 pm

Belligerent Savant » Sat Nov 24, 2018 10:22 am wrote:
JackRiddler » Thu Nov 22, 2018 11:21 pm wrote:.

Elvis, your first 22 Nov post -- phenomenal work by Ames exposing Bellingcat.

Also, grateful to you for reproducing all those graphics here.

.


Agreed. Ames' piece should not be surprising for anyone critically analyzing these events in the last ~2yrs.

While we may offer the benefit of the doubt that the historical citing/pasting (with minimal/no disclaimers, context, or caveats) of content from these hacks were inserted into RI threads, however ill-informed, as a means to offer a 'perspective' of events as they unfolded, I'd suggest that moving forward, ANY content by the following vermin should be flagged here as Blatant PROPAGANDA moving forward:

Bellingcat/Eliot Higgins
Michael Weiss
Aaron Zelin
Atlantic Council

They -- and others of their ilk -- are willing tools in the dissimenation of mis/disinformation, with devastating consequences to the lives of many.


White Mike, is one of the worst. People shilling his shite on here should be ashamed of themselves
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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:53 pm

Liberal journalists rejoice as controversial British blogger Graham Phillips banned from Twitter

Controversial British blogger Graham Phillips has had his Twitter account permanently suspended, prompting many liberal journalists who have been following his activities to rejoice.
According to Phillips – writing in a Facebook post – his account has been “permanently banned,” adding that Twitter has provided “no examples of the ‘hateful content’ they accuse me of.”

Philips’ often unconventional, always confrontational, practices have led to him being maligned by many of his peers.

After his apparent disappearance from Twitter his detractors were quick to post on the numerous other accusations against him. For example, the UK-based independent journalist and filmmaker Jake Hanrahan, who has worked for the BBC, Bellingcat, and The Guardian, has accused him of looting “a dead Ukraine soldier's body.”

One such critic who has regularly targeted Phillips is Elliot Higgins, head of Bellingcat, a UK-based investigatory website linked to NATO. Higgins has tweeted his delight at the news.

Higgins had invariably sparred with Phillips over Twitter, namely over NATO’s funding for Bellingcat, a supposedly non-partisan organisation.

Meanwhile, the ‘gonzo’ journalist urged his fans to lobby Twitter’s administrators asking them to unlock the account of “an independent British journalist, telling the truth.” Some of his supporters decried the ban as an attack on freedom of speech, urging Twitter to reverse the decision.

The blogger came to prominence during the conflict in eastern Ukraine, where he was often accused of bias towards the separatists.

In May 2014, Phillips was detained and interrogated by the Security Service of Ukraine, known as the SBU. His subsequent expulsion from the country has not stopped Phillips from targeting the Ukrainian government and those he perceives as their supporters.

Most recently he got into an altercation with Ukraine’s ambassador to Austria Alexander Shcherba, Phillips filmed as the men exchanged insults.


Despite his controversies the apparent banning of Phillips, reportedly without stated reason, will come as a worry for those who fear Twitter is purging its platform of alternative voices. Twitter has drawn the ire of conservative media in recent months for a series of bans targeting online commentators and political figures such as Alex Jones and Louis Farrakhan, among others.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lj1xh-rXVaw
https://www.rt.com/uk/444579-graham-phi ... d-twitter/



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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Nov 24, 2018 5:05 pm


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hhLSh_NEgM

Russia Insider
Youtube Wants to Censor UK Journalist's Incredible Work on Ukraine War (Graham Phillips)
This man is a legend, for good reason
https://russia-insider.com/en/military/ ... ps/ri20843



Facebook has removed account of pro-Kremlin blogger Graham W Phillips
https://liveuamap.com/en/2018/4-septemb ... in-blogger


British Reporter's Diatribe At Maimed Captive Rankles Kyiv
September 23, 2016 11:52 GMT
By Mike Eckel
Andy Heil
Controversial British reporter Graham Phillips (file photo)


As Graham Phillips tells it, back in the late 1990s as a Dundee University dual major in philosophy and history and a thespian performing under the stage name Brandon Reed, he saw his "career either as journalism, or writing for the theater."

He appears, after stints in state-sector marketing and communications, publishing, and teaching, to have opted for both.

A British expat reporter and videographer who fancies himself a "truth speaker" out to redeem independent journalism in the fog of the Russia-backed war in eastern Ukraine, Phillips' critics describe him as a propagandist, plain and simple.

In his latest clip to have sparked outrage, Phillips uses his stilted Russian and two minutes of exclusive access (apparently granted by the separatists) to berate a badly disabled Ukrainian man moments before his handover to Kyiv authorities as part of a prisoner swap.

Subtitled in English, the video features Phillips climbing into a minivan marked with a red cross before Volodymyr Zhemchuhov is exchanged for several separatists.

WATCH: Graham Phillips Taunts Volodymyr Zhemchuhov


Phillips accuses Zhemchuhov -- who lost both hands and his sight in a mine blast in September 2015, then spent a year in separatist custody -- of speaking "like a brainwashed zombie" and being "not such a smart guy" whose injuries came in a failed effort at sabotage. The latter charge echoes allegations made by separatists that Zhemchuhov was wounded while acting as a saboteur.

He also tells the prisoner that no one needs him anymore because he lost his arms.

Zhemchuhov, who describes himself as "an educated man" who is familiar with Phillips' work, responds to the Briton's taunts by calling him a "traitor, pro-Putin propaganda scum."

"Who made you come here to my Motherland? How much does [Russian President Vladimir] Putin pay you? Go home," he tells Phillips.

Phillips' YouTube clip, from September 17, eventually drew the attention of officials in Kyiv, who have responded with a request via the Ukrainian Embassy in London for British authorities to rein in Phillips to keep him off Ukrainian territory.

Ukraine's ambassador to Britain, Natalya Halybarenko, made the appeal in an open letter on September 22, threatening Phillips with criminal prosecution.

Halybarenko called on British authorities to "take all possible measures including with regard to his travel documents to stop Mr. Phillips’s propaganda work for the Russian occupation authorities in Ukraine and for him to leave our country for good."

There was no immediate reaction to the letter from Britain's Foreign Office.

Deported Twice

Phillips has gotten under the skin of Ukrainian officials before. They have twice expelled him and sought to ban him from the country for three years -- but their lack of control over Crimea, which was forcibly annexed by Russia in 2014, and separatist-held swaths of Ukraine's Donbas region have left him free to travel there with Russian or other connivance.

Phillips, who blew onto the international media scene 2 1/2 years ago with the start of hostilities in Ukraine, has made his name on social media and video-sharing sites for brash and sometimes foolhardy reporting around the front lines with pro-Moscow separatists.

He has worked for Russia's state broadcaster RT and its military channel Zvezda and toes the Kremlin line, alleging Kyiv's responsibility for the conflict and shaming its troops and accusing them of the "murder [of] civilians," as well as asserting Moscow's narrative that part of eastern Ukraine "is Novorossia and not Ukraine." He has routinely posed with separatist or Russian weapons in hand and in Russian military uniform, and even cheered separatists' tactical victories on the battlefield.

Phillips' critics call his war coverage mere Russia-sponsored theater with the aim of legitimizing Moscow's designs in Ukraine.

But the results are more than 39,000 followers on his Twitter account, 78,000 subscribers and millions of views on his YouTube channel, and even a crowdfunding effort.

Zhemchuhov's release was announced by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who welcomed him and another prisoner personally upon their return to Ukrainian-controlled territory:

Phillips responded to the Ukrainian diplomatic letter in a series of Twitter posts on September 22, suggesting simply that "#Ukraine hates the truth being reported!" and that the country had gone"into hysterics" out of "hate for one freelance journalist."

The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, a well-known Ukrainian activist group, called on journalist organizations in the West and elsewhere to condemn Phillips for the interview with Zhemchuhov, saying his aggressive questioning was a form of torture.

"There are doubtless different tasks that Phillips is there to perform, but one advantage to pro-Kremlin sources is quite simply in being able to describe him as 'a British journalist'," the group said in a letter. "It is surely time for both UK and international journalist organizations to publicly put an end to this lie and clearly state that torture, abuse and flagrant distortions are not what journalism is about."

Phillips got into trouble in Latvia earlier this year by accusing Latvian authorities of countenancing Nazism while he was covering a controversial demonstration of right-wing nationalists whose past rallies have drawn criticism from the Kremlin.

A video of the March rally shows Phillips yelling in Russian, "Aren’t you ashamed of propagandizing fascism?"

He was detained and later expelled.
https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-graham- ... 08922.html



How A British Blogger Became An Unlikely Star Of The Ukraine Conflict — And Russia Today

Graham Phillips has become a fixture on Kremlin television and a micro-celebrity on the streets of Ukraine.

Max SeddonMay 21, 2014, at 5:34 p.m.
Posted on May 20, 2014, at 1:00 p.m. ET

Graham Phillips has won internet notoriety for his guerrilla field reports from eastern Ukraine for Kremlin TV.
Via Facebook: eurokharkiv
Graham Phillips has won internet notoriety for his guerrilla field reports from eastern Ukraine for Kremlin TV.

MARIUPOL, Ukraine — It was the bloodiest day yet in eastern Ukraine. On May 9, during Victory Day celebrations in the drab industrial seaside town of Mariupol, dozens of armed militants barricaded themselves inside a police station and exchanged fire with government forces. During the fighting, the building burned down. Pools of blood and singed bodies appeared in the street.

But how many people were killed? Local news reported two deaths. Ukraine's interior minister said 21 people died in the fighting. Human Rights Watch could only confirm seven deaths after visiting all four hospitals where the wounded were taken.

None of that seemed right to Graham Phillips, a roving Ukraine-based British blogger who films guerrilla field reports from the conflict's hot spots for his own YouTube channel and has become a growing star on Kremlin-owned media. So he set out to investigate in the way that has made him a cult micro-celebrity in east Ukraine's crisis: by interviewing angry people on the street for 90 seconds at a time.

Some people told him that more than 100 people had died in the fighting.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rb75NEMeebM
youtube.com
In Phillips' version of events, Ukraine's army was eager to cover up the massacre and so it bypassed morgues and hospitals and hid the bodies in the woods. Relatives of the dead were too terrified of reprisals to claim them missing, he said. Phillips' interlocutors, whom he described as "well-informed local sources," provided no evidence for these claims. He has yet to corroborate them. Nonetheless, Phillips soon appeared on Russian television promoting the unverified figure of 100 dead.

The danger, trauma, and paranoia of conflict have made the free flow of information one of the major casualties of eastern Ukraine's crisis. Ukrainian and Russian media alike cheer on different sides while reporting half-truths and rumors as akin to fact. Beyond the information war, journalists increasingly find themselves treated as foot soldiers in the armed conflict. Separatist militia have abducted or assaulted dozens of Ukrainian journalists, as well as several Western reporters (including both Phillips and BuzzFeed's Mike Giglio).

On Tuesday, Kremlin propaganda channel RT, which employs Phillips as a freelancer three days a week, said that Ukraine's national guard detained Phillips at a checkpoint outside Mariupol on suspicion of being a spy. BuzzFeed was unable to confirm the claim with Phillips or Ukraine's interior ministry. (He was released on Wednesday.)

Kiev's interim government has been working to remove Russian TV from the country entirely and increasingly treats Russian state journalists as enemy combatants. On Sunday, a Ukrainian army official posted photographs of two reporters for slavishly pro-Kremlin cable channel LifeNews in handcuffs, claiming they were "accomplices" of pro-Russian "terrorists." Ukraine's security officials said that the journalists, Oleg Sidyakin and Marat Saichenko, had a portable missile launcher in the trunk of their car and confessed to "accompanying terrorists and covering their illegal activity." Dunja Mijatovic, who monitors press freedom for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, has demanded their release. Pro-Kremlin bloggers tried to start a campaign for their release using the hashtag #SaveOurGuys.

That same environment has allowed a marginal character like Phillips, 35, to become the unlikeliest of stars stringing regularly for RT and guesting frequently on Russian state television. To paraphrase Hunter S. Thompson: When the going gets weird, the weird turn to Russia Today. Phillips' kamikaze nose for danger and vocal support for the rebel cause have made him a cause célèbre in the pro-Putin media and a star on YouTube, where his personal channel has over 6 million views. He posts 25 to 30 videos a day, usually between 20 and 90 seconds in length, where he interviews passersby in his choppy, heavily accented Russian and muses to the camera as he wanders around the conflict's hot spots.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdzmCkIV5rY

Often, Phillips' wide-eyed delivery and prolificness recall Timothy Treadwell, the hero of Werner Herzog's 2005 documentary Grizzly Man, who obsessively documented his life among bears in the Alaskan wilderness before one of them mauled him to death. He seems unaware — either through gleeful disregard or rookie ignorance — of basic journalistic ethics, objectivity, or production values. He acts as if he has no concerns for his own personal safety, running across fields toward Ukrainian army installations, interviewing rebels as bullets fly overhead, and baiting militia manning rebel checkpoints.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YusiAMVjV8

"My father always said to me as a boy, 'You go too far, Graham,'" Phillips told BuzzFeed by phone from Slovyansk, the epicenter of the rebel uprising near Donetsk. "And I know that I do, and I always try again to get away with it, and I feel like I have this self-destruction: I always want to be just pushing, and then I have to make a call sometime — do you backtrack or do you stick it out?"


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hjq5CKmgzoY

Though Phillips works separately from RT's team of staff reporters, he is by far the channel's most recognizable figure in the region. He can often be seen throughout eastern Ukraine mingling with staff from RT and pro-Kremlin cable channel LifeNews. RT, however, falls short of embracing him fully. Phillips has received no offer of full-time work. The channel frequently features his videos, but takes pains to point out that he is not a staff correspondent.

"Graham Phillips went to areas where other journalists did not dare to, to bring to the public's attention the stories that undermined the one-sided mainstream media narrative of the events in Ukraine," RT said in a statement to BuzzFeed. "RT has been collaborating with him since April, when Ukraine banned entry for Russian males, and denied access to the country to several RT crews. Mr. Phillips' engagement with RT was always going to be a temporary one."

Phillips' unconventional approach to journalism is partly a reaction against his previous career working for Britain's now-defunct government marketing agency, the Central Office of Information, in London. There, he was one of 700 bureaucrats reviewing government websites and preparing reports for parliament, a life he says "was a little bit out of The Office." He first discovered Ukraine when he attended an England soccer game in the eastern city of Dnipropetrovsk in 2009. Keen, at 30, to give his life a fresh start and struck by the country's "different and otherworldly" women, Phillips moved to Kiev the following year, finding work as an English teacher, then, later, on a television network and as a nightlife writer for an English-language entertainment magazine. That may not have been Hemingway in Paris, but for Phillips, it offered him the chance to pick up threads he felt he had neglected since university, when he faxed in unsolicited articles to The Scotsman. "Ukraine draws people — there's a certain capacity for reinvention here," he said.

Eventually, Phillips began documenting his life and thoughts on a blog, Brit in Ukraine, which he saw as a springboard for his writing career. Entries about prostitutes, students who moonlight as escorts, foreign-bride hunters, and other "sexpats" suggest he enjoyed a second adolescence common among Western expats in Ukraine. Many of them, however, are written with a naive candor that makes him out to be less a conventional sex tourist than a man simply gaping in awe through a window into a new, scuzzy world.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hjq5CKmgzoY
One, "Prostitutes and Me," recounts his experiences with paying for sex in Amsterdam. The first encounter leaves him feeling he and "Natasha" were "like kindred spirits," he writes. "A new high had replaced the drugs, and I exhaled 'I love prostitutes' into an appreciative Amsterdam night." Two subsequent visits to other women, however, are so clinical that he swears off the practice entirely. Beyond that, Phillips' interest in the sex trade seemingly borders on the scientific. Another multi-part series of entries details the history of the River Palace, a floating brothel on the Dnieper River linked to the son of Ukraine's former president, complete with interviews with prostitutes and johns. (Phillips says this was the only time he visited.) "Ukraine speaks to the wildness in me," Phillips said.

By the time mass protests in Kiev against then-President Viktor Yanukovych broke out last December, however, Phillips' time in Ukraine had, by his own admission, "completely flopped." He was unemployed. An e-book he wrote accusing a Ukrainian internet bride of murdering her British husband was withdrawn after her new boyfriend threatened legal action. Another, about an American fruitlessly searching for a Ukrainian bride for 15 years, never came to fruition. A serious relationship with a Ukrainian woman collapsed when Phillips failed to commit to marriage, souring irreparably shortly afterward when he failed to share her embrace of the protest movement.

At the same time, Phillips' online diatribes against the protesters caught the eye of producers at RT, who invited him on to denounce the movement a few times via Skype as a dissenting Western voice. "The way that Ukraine is perceived and portrayed in the media isn't a representation of what I've seen and what I've felt and what I've experienced," Phillips said. "They're portrayed as the nice cuddly country that's been attacked by the big bear of Russia. But what I see is a country that has a lot more problems."

On the advice of an acquaintance, he bought a camera and started documenting the movement in the hope of selling the videos to Storyful, an agency that verifies and re-sells user-generated footage. Though the historical moment largely passed by Phillips, then living in Odessa in southern Ukraine, he decided to branch out further in March after Russia seized the nearby Crimean peninsula.

When RT (then briefly unable to get its reporters over the Ukrainian border) asked him to cover separatist uprisings in Ukraine's east a month later, Phillips already had a tidy sum from his Crimea footage (and a clip in Politico Magazine) under his belt. For the first few days of the turmoil, he was the channel's only reporter in the region. "I was told that I was the water boy who was asked to step into the first 11," he said, using a soccer metaphor.

Phillips sees his work for RT as a platform to grow his web presence foremost. "The big thing for me is my YouTube channel," he said. "They basically let me go off and do my thing." He says that he has no particular connection to or affinity for Russia, though he uses language of "fascists" and the "Kiev junta" that often matches Russian talking points word for word.

"There's this idea that I have this dark line to the Kremlin but it's really not the case," he said. "They've got this terminology that they use but also that matches my own. That is how I feel," he added. When pressed on how exactly he developed his political beliefs, Phillips is evasive, but says that they are based on observations from his time spent living in Ukraine. He has only visited Russia "a couple times" on holiday. "It's very nice," he said.

Soon, Phillips' stock began to rise. He appeared on Russian state television saying he would "die for the truth."

One of his videos has well over a million views.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bpabV3S4uA

By now, Phillips says, his reports and videos have become so popular that ordinary people in small towns recognize him as "that YouTube guy" in the street. When pro-Kiev activists on Twitter suggested capturing him to earn a $10,000 reward Dnipropetrovsk's governor offered for turning in Russian spies, Kremlin media rushed to hold up the story as an example of Ukrainian barbarism. "Phillips regularly posts evidence of truth that is a thorn in the side of Ukrainian radicals," Russia's state newspaper wrote. Other Ukrainian activist groups have since called for him to be deported for secretly filming Ukrainian national guard positions.

His main source of income remains his YouTube channel, where videos sold through Storyful can fetch thousands of dollars at a time. Since April, he says he has earned about $20,000 through his freelance work — including $2,000 for a clip in Newsweek about his abduction.

One of Phillips' most recent tangles with danger came on Friday, when he was out shooting for his YouTube channel in a field near the town of Kramatorsk. When he tweeted that Ukraine's army had shot at him, RT flashed the news. After he uploaded video of the incident, however, RT ran a correction distancing itself from the reporter and admitting that the video clearly showed him setting off a tripwire flare.

No gunfire can be heard.

Phillips claims a soldier did shoot at his feet, but after the video ends.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysY2zcMSnQo

Phillips claims a soldier did shoot at his feet, but after the video ends.

"The journalist's previous record of reporting for RT has already backfired on him," the channel wrote. "It's important to remember that many journalists working in Ukraine — including several of RT's own — have come under attack since the crisis broke out, thus the situation described by Mr. Phillips is not an unlikely one," RT added in a statement to BuzzFeed.

"They kind of threw me under the bus a bit in a way that was probably a bit disappointing," Phillips said of the incident.


View this video on YouTube

youtube.com
On Tuesday afternoon, RT released audio of Phillips claiming he had been detained by Ukraine's National Guard on suspicion of being a spy.

"I believe that someone is coming," he said. "They’ve done checks on my documentation. They found my reports and clips I’ve done and they’re now looking through them asking me my position on things, asking if I’m a spy, and asking me quite thorough questions."
View this video on YouTube

"I believe that someone is coming," he said. "They’ve done checks on my documentation. They found my reports and clips I’ve done and they’re now looking through them asking me my position on things, asking if I’m a spy, and asking me quite thorough questions."

Konstantin Dolgov, Russia's foreign ministry's human rights ombudsman, told RT that Phillips' alleged detention was "another step de facto made by Ukrainian authorities to curb the activities of unwanted journalists [who] work professionally and show an objective picture, the ugly side of the outrages made by ultranationalists, the results of [Kiev's] punitive operation in the southeast."

Calls to Ukraine's interior ministry went unanswered. Phillips' phone was switched off, and his Twitter account went silent.

"I've been here for over two hours and I've been described, my status, as being detained in terms of I can't leave," Phillips said on the tape. "The dialogue is quite interrogation-oriented."
https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ma ... he-ukraine
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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby Rory » Sat Nov 24, 2018 6:52 pm

US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?
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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Nov 24, 2018 6:55 pm

oh yeah it is my thread isn't it?

‘We do not have a country called Syria any more. There is nothing left’

Life is hard for Syrian refugees in Turkey, but for many going back would be worse
Image
Jennifer Ryan in Sanliurfa
Mohammad Hamza, his wife Huriye and daughters Derin, Lorin and Tulin from Aleppo are beneficiaries of EU funded ESSN programme in Izmir, Turkey.
When Khalil and his wife Fayrouz crossed the border from Syria to Turkey in 2016, it was snowing.

They had walked from Aleppo with their children and grandchildren for five days and paid smugglers to help them to cross, only to be caught by the Turkish authorities and sent back.

Again, they paid the same smugglers and again, they crossed.

There are almost 3.6 million Syrian refugees in Turkey. Most are stuck in a kind of limbo, unable to move forward to Europe as they may have planned, or back to Syria out of fear or because they have nothing left there.

In the southeastern Turkish city of Sanliurfa, where Khalil and his family live, life is difficult. They have six children and 10 grandchildren here, but only one of their sons-in-law has a job.

Making ends meet is a daily struggle, but life is better in Turkey than it was in Syria. When the family left Aleppo two years ago, the city was destroyed.

Life was horrible; they were constantly under siege, there was no bread and no electricity or running water.

'Aleppo was like the mother of heavens. I miss the beauty of it'
One day they packed what they could and went walking for seven hours to try to escape the bombs, but even then they could not outrun the horror and went back home.

When a bomb fell on their building one night, Khalil’s youngest daughter Iman almost lost her mind with fear. He decided, “that’s enough. We are leaving.”

Amena Hassan left Aleppo three years earlier, in 2013, and now lives in a small apartment in Izmir, Turkey’s third-largest city, with her nine children aged three to 23.

Today she is at the EU-funded physical rehabilitation centre, Relief International-MUDEM, with her son Hajji who has serious heart problems and mental disabilities.

Hajji’s medication, which costs 3,000 lira every three months, is being paid for by the Turkish government, but Amena is terrified that the funding will be revoked.

Her family also qualifies for the EU-funded ESSN – a cash transfer scheme providing monthly assistance to the most vulnerable registered refugees in Turkey – but with rising inflation due to the country’s ongoing financial crisis, it is becoming harder for refugees to make that money stretch.

‘Life is so difficult’

“I have a responsibility to my children and life is so difficult in Turkey that I don’t want to stay here,” she says.

Khalil’s children and grandchildren are now learning Turkish in Sanliurfa and he hopes that they can finish their education here, but he misses his home country. He would like to return one day and hopes the country will be rebuilt, though he doubts that will happen in his lifetime.
Image
Mahmoud Abdel Karim and his wife Hazar, with their children Mohammed, Zahraa and Ahmed. Photograph: European Commission/Eren Aytu
“Aleppo was like the mother of heavens. I miss the beauty of it,” he says.

His wife, Fayrouz, does not feel the same. She wants to stay in Turkey and does not want to go back to Syria because her memories have been destroyed by the war. Does she see an end to the violence?

“Only God knows. We do not have a country called Syria anymore. We lost everything. There is nothing left in Syria. So, if we are talking about an end, it is already here,” she says.

Amena Hassan believes that her children would have more opportunities and that her son Hajji would get better medical treatment if they went to Europe or Canada.

She has applied for resettlement and is hopeful, but according to last year’s figures from the UNHCR, of the 19.9 million refugees of concern to the agency in 2017, fewer than one per cent were resettled under the programme.

“It doesn’t matter which country. I just want to live in a better situation,” Amena says.

Her eldest son offered to go to Europe illegally in the hopes of making Hajji’s case known to the authorities and securing safe passage for the rest of the family, but Amena refused.

“I said no. I said if we go we will go together, if we die we will die together and if we stay we will stay together,” she says.

Fear of return

Mohamed Hamza and his wife Houria thought about going to Europe in 2015 when smugglers’ fees were lower, but decided it was too dangerous.

“I couldn’t risk my daughters’ lives,” he says.

Mohamed fled Aleppo nearly five years ago on his youngest daughter Tulin’s first birthday, leaving his wife and children behind until he could afford to pay for them to join him.
Image
Fayrouz, her daughter Iman and her husband Khalil who walked for five days from Aleppo to cross the Turkish border. Photograph: European Commission/Eren Aytu

Today, his two eldest daughters – Derin (13) and Laurin (11) – are counting the minutes until they can go to school.

The Hamza children speak Kurdish at home and Turkish in school, but they cannot speak Arabic and Mohamed worries about what would happen if Turkey decided to send the refugees back to Syria.

“Sometimes I think, ‘why didn’t I take them to Europe years ago?’ Because I’m sure the education is guaranteed somewhere like Germany, ” he says.

People are afraid to go back to Syria.

Some of the refugees will not give their full names because of the rumours that president Bashar al-Assad is making lists of those who left during the war and that they may face persecution on their return.

Mohamed says he has heard of people being arrested, but he is not sure what is true and what is not. Even so, he believes his life could be in danger if he went back.

Does he see a future in Europe?

'I am dreaming of leaving to guarantee a better future in Canada or Germany'
His wife’s cousin recently went to France through the UNHCR resettlement programme and they would consider joining her, but only through official channels.

Going illegally would not make sense, he says.

“I fled Syria because of the conflict and because it’s not secure. I can’t go illegally to Europe, it’s not secure. So for now, I am just here in Turkey and I am already integrated into the community.”

Mahmoud Abdel Karim and his family did try to go to Europe illegally.

They fled Deir al-Zour in eastern Syria four years ago when it was overrun by Islamic State and in July 2017 they paid smugglers $350 (€309) per person to get them from Izmir to Greece.

Mahmoud, his wife Hazar and their six children, tried to board the packed rubber dingy but backed out, afraid that they would drown.

“The capacity of the boat was for 20 people, but they had put more than 30 people on it,” he says.

‘They would kill us’

The Karims have applied for resettlement in Germany through the UNHCR, but the process has been stopped due to issues with the birth certificates of two of their children, which can only be fixed by going back to Syria.

That is not possible, says Mahmoud.

Amena Hassan from Aleppo wants to go to Europe or Canada where her son Hajji can get better medical treatment. Photograph: European Commission/Eren Aytu
Amena Hassan from Aleppo wants to go to Europe or Canada where her son Hajji can get better medical treatment. Photograph: European Commission/Eren Aytu
“They would kill us if we go back,” he says.

Who are “they”?

“Terrorists are everywhere. Blood is everywhere. I used to keep my kids in the house so that they would not see it,” he says.

More than 370,000 refugee children in Turkey are not in school and child labour is a big problem, with many families dependent on the money their children bring home.

Until recently the three eldest Karim children – Zahraa (17), Mohammed (16) and Ahmed (14) – had jobs, but now they are on the Accelerated Learning Programme which is funded by the EU and run by the Turkish ministry of education and organisations including Unicef.

It aims to get refugee children outside the education system back to school through tutoring and language support.

Zahraa is delighted to be in school instead of working – “there is no future in having to work at this age,” she says.

Their father is also happy, but without their incomes it is a struggle to put food on the table.

“The other day we could not even find a piece of bread . . . I am dreaming of leaving to guarantee a better future in Canada or Germany,” he says.

Would they like to go back to Syria?

“Not to Syria,” says Zahraa. “We have nothing to go back for now.”

Jennifer Ryan’s trip to Turkey was funded by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/e ... -1.3708457
Last edited by seemslikeadream on Sat Nov 24, 2018 6:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby Rory » Sat Nov 24, 2018 6:58 pm

seems like an american dream, contribution
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